People's participation at the grassroots level in development is a major concern of policy-makers, development planners, research workers and practitioners in the field of rural development. The ability and the willingness of the rural people to involve themselves actively in the development process depends on their level of motivation. The village-level leaders can play a central role in the process of motivating and igniting the enthusiasm of the people at the village-level. Strengthening the capabilities of the village-level workers in this respect is one of the crucial challenges faced by practitioners in the field of rural development.
The primary purpose of this study is to identify, prioritize and operationalize the training needs of the village-level workers in performing their role effectively as facilitators in involving rural masses in the development programs.
The design of the study combines a critical survey of literature, a case study, a needs assessment and an operationalizing process of prioritized needs. The survey of literature incorporates a critical appraisal of concepts of rural development and of people's participation. It also highlights the crucial role of village-level leaders in eliciting people's participation, drawing upon examples from selected development models. The case study inquires into the role of village-level leaders of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, a unique example of a participatory rural development effort in the developing world and also evaluates the nature of its training efforts. The needs assessment explores the training needs of the village-level leaders of the Movement. The prioritization process highlights major training needs, and the operationalization process breaks down prioritized needs into more clear dimensions. At the conclusion of the study these major dimensions emerging from the prioritized training needs have been analysed and synthesized to present a general framework for the formulation of training program for village-level leaders. While the study is focused specifically on the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka, the broad framework may be relevant to training programs for other developing countries.